In theory, once a provider achieves Meaningful Use and picks up their first check, one might think that they’re on board and ready to power through the program. Well, think again.
According to a piece published in HIT Consultant, 17 percent of providers who got an $18,000 EMR check in 2011 didn’t get the second $12,000 incentive payout in 2012. The stats come from a recently published analysis of the federal April EMR attestation data crunched by Wells Fargo.
What that means, in real terms, is that 17 percent of providers were able to demonstrate MU for the 90 days required in 2011 but couldn’t keep things up for the full year required for to get the second check, notes Evan Steele, CEO of EMR firm SRSsoft, who authored the article.
You’d think that providers could have demonstrated a year’s compliance, given that after 90 days they already had the needed workflows in place to support those requirements, but for nearly 20 percent of providers, it seems that simply wasn’t the case, Steele says. And this is very bad news, he suggests:
A 17% loss rate in any business is wholly unacceptable, and this failure does not portend well for the future of the EHR Incentive Program. If $12,000 proved to be insufficient motivation for physicians with meaningful use experience to meet the relatively low requirements of Stage 1 on an ongoing basis, it would be foolish to expect physicians to muster the wherewithal to meet the increasingly demanding requirements of Stage 2. The incentive for a year’s performance at that point will be a mere $4,000.
Thinking that perhaps the 17 percent dropoff trend will correct itself as time passes? Probably not. As Steele points out, another survey recently found that 14 percent of physicians who attested to Stage 1 already say that they don’t intent to attest to Stage 2.
As Steele sees it, this is evidence that we need to simplify Meaningful Use rather than making it increasingly complex, while focusing on interoperability across the entire healthcare system. In his view, if we don’t “the entire program will go down the drain.”
I don’t know if these numbers are evidence that Meaningful Use is on the skids, but a 17 percent dropoff is certainly troubling. Clearly something must be done to reach out to providers who’ve climbed off the train.